ECBC Hercules Backpack: Slim, Rugged Carry-All for the Modern Traveler

We’ve really been digging ECBC’s lineup of backpacks lately. We even ranked the company’s Javelin Daypack among our Holiday Gear Guide 2012: 25 Picks for the Best Travel Gear of the Year.

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And with good reason: their bags are lightweight, rugged, water-resistant, and very well designed. It’s clear that much thought goes into the layout of pockets, zippers and other accoutrements.

And so it is with their latest top-of-the-line Hercules Laptop Backpack. They offered to send us a sample, which I gladly put through its paces on a two-week trip to Hawaii.

ECBC Hercules Laptop Backpack

The Skinny

The Hercules is ECBC’s cream-of-the-crop backpack, touting all the bells and whistles most travelers would ever want. In their own words:

The Hercules Laptop Backpack is crafted from the most durable “Outdoor Industry Tested” 1000d Kodra material with water repellent coating. Integral to the flexible design is the TSA-compliant compartment, which allows you to just unzip the back panel of the backpack, lay it down flat and run it through the scanner.

It also features an ergonomically designed shoulder strap system with adjustment points and sternum strap, a breathable back padding design, and zip-away powermesh side pockets for water bottles. This pack also boasts two large zippered mesh pockets inside to store you external hard drive, cables, or other pertinent items.

The feature list is quite lengthy for a backpack. Of particular note:

  • Front zipper pocket for documents, plane tickets, passport
  • Nylon Tube Webbing + Foam Top Carry Handle
  • Adjustable Shoulder Straps
  • Heavy-duty water resistant YKK zippers
  • Protects up to 17″ laptop in high density foam foldout compartment (with removable foam spacer to accommodate smaller laptops)
  • Padded iPad/Tablet sleeve
  • Fleece-lined pocket for music players, camera, sunglasses, etc.
  • Main inside compartment for books, magazines, folders/paperwork
  • Cord Manager/Accessories pocket

The Traveler’s Take

Straight out of the box, the solid build quality is immediately obvious. The bag feels sturdy with durable materials, zippers, and straps all around.

The Hercules is designed as a bag for the modern traveler – anyone who typically packs a dozen gadgets on any given trip. There are four main features that I absolutely love about the Hercules. First is that it’s deceptively large – cavernous enough to fit most 17″ laptops. This includes the behemoth that I routinely travel with – a large 17″ HP Pavilion that I always have a hard time finding a bag big enough for. What’s more is that the pack looks smaller than it actually is. It easily fits under a standard airline seat without issue.

Another standout feature is the FastPass system that allows for quicker checks through security. It may sound like a minor thing, but frequent travelers will appreciate not having to remove their laptop from the pack. Simply unzip the laptop compartment completely, and fold it out and away from the rest of the pack. Your laptop remains safe and sound inside the padded rear pocket.

There’s a vast (almost too vast) array of pockets, nooks, and crannies to organize a modern traveler’s collection of gear, gadgets, cables, loose change, air/train tickets, etc.

Other features include water-resistant zippers (a real boon for days at the beach or protecting your e-goodies from the occasional spill while in transit) and two zippered side pockets each large enough to fit a standard 1-liter Nalgene bottle.

Pricing & Availability

Available now in five solid colors (Blue, Black, Green, Linen, or Berry) for around $140 (USD) directly from ECBC.

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